Project Leader: Patrick Gallo Project Dates: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 
Project Report 
Here is the final copy of our Project Report. My thanks to Dan, Stacey, Erik and Jen for making this project everything that it could be. I hope that you are all enjoying your time back home
Thursday July 22nd thru Monday July 26th: Finishing up the month’s projects
On Thursday, we hiked in the northeast corner of the Los Angeles River Ranger District inside the Angeles National Forest. We always worked inside this ranger district. The trail we took was the one to Mt. Islip. The place was really close to the wilderness areas which means we were in pine forest about 6500ft to an summit of 8000ft above the sea level. We hiked to the summit, ate our lunch, and went down for a total length of 7 miles. I was completely exhausted throughout the entire hike since hiking up hills has always been a workout for me. We went grocery shopping afterwards at a nearby mountain town.
On Friday, we did preparation work for the event tomorrow with the Sierra Club at Mill Creek with Andrew and Blake (the National Forest’s Trail Program Manager and Assistant). We’ve constructed a wooden wall made of burnt logs to help stabilize the soil on the edge of the trail to stop the erosion of the trail. We also did a little chainsaw training with a hot shot crew where I’ve cut down limbs from a collapsed burnt tree. All the trees in this area are burnt but still stood erect. And there are probably over a hundred burnt trees in this little picnic area.
On Saturday, the event with the Sierra Club took place. We’ve constructed many wooden walls, a few drainage dips, and some treading. Andrew and Blake where supervising and leading the event, as well as cutting down trees to be used as logs for the wooden walls. Each SCA crew member were in charge of a group of Sierra Club volunteers with the task of fixing up a section of the trail. I was there leading a group to build two wooden walls. I have so much fun with the Sierra Club that it helps distract me from the heat of the sun and lack of shade in the area.
On Sunday, we worked at Mt Gleason removing Spanish Bloom. This time we drove for an extra hour just to get to the site where Spanish bloom exist. I’ve felt that we done a lot to remove most of the Spanish Bloom in that area. Yet, I see Spanish Bloom along the roadsides which signals that there are areas that need to be worked on. Well, anyways, this is the last day for doing this sort of project. It still is very hot working there.
On Monday, we prepared to do the projects in West Fork and Chilao Visitor Center. We went to Vons for a little internet connection to put in our hours and for a little food. We went to Home Depot to buy materials (wood and bolts) for the preparation work at West Fork Trails Camp and the Chilao Visitor Center. We also did a short site assessment at West Fork to plan ahead. Yes, it does take a whole day to do this kind of thing since it takes an hour to get into civilization.
Thursday July 29th thru Monday August 2nd: West Fork Hitch
On Thursday, we worked at the Chilao Visitor Center’s Three Panel Display. We spent most of the day cutting wood, measuring the display, and installing the wood to the display’s fixtures. We had to redo everything since we screwed up. We now have an SUV to make our time more efficient by being able to split the group into two to do two different things at once as well as increase the load capacity of our trips so that we don’t have to waste time doing two or more trips for an hitch. Half of our group was gone for half the day since they went to see the doctor regarding strange rashes that covered their bodies. Two SCA interns (Chris and Ryan) from a nearby ranger district have come over to us in the afternoon and will be with us for the next few days for a hitch.
On Friday, we set up camp at West Fork Trails Camp for the event tomorrow. We had to do two trips with the red truck so that we can move the necessary wood planks to replace the picnic tables in addition to the supplies and tools for tomorrow’s event. West Fork is located in a dense part of a oak forest along a creek at the bottom of a canyon. The place is really remote and the one land dirt road is partially washed out with the electric company working along the same road to do repair work on their power lines. That means the one lane road that switchbacks across a ledge has some traffic and makes it slow and difficult to navigate around other trucks just to get to our site. West Fork is a breeding ground for mosquitoes in the mornings and evenings. Apparently, I am the favorite person to be bitten by those flying insects for some strange reason. We’ve moved the concrete ‘legs’ of the new tables to their respected sites within the campground. Those legs are so heavy that it takes 3 persons to move one of these legs. I think they weigh around 350 lbs. We also installed one table to figure out how to do it. We did this in preparation for tomorrow’s event.
On Saturday, we did the volunteering event at West Fork. Several volunteers shown up for this event. The goal was to replace 4 picnic tables, install 2 fire pits, do hazard reduction for 6 fire pits, and salvage what wooden tables we can get. We’ve spent most of the time sanding and painting the wooden planks that we moved to this site. Stacy was the one in charge for this event and I see that we were pretty efficient in the matter. We’ve replaced 2.5 picnic tables, did hazard reduction for 4 fire pits, and salvaged one table. We’ve created a wood pile at the parking lot so that when John the Ranger comes by with the truck, he can collect the wood and store it at one of those large wood piles around the national forest. After working there, we hiked for a couple of hours along the creek to see the beauty of the creek and surrounding environment. We hiked yesterday to a different part of the creek. The creek was a very beautiful area but full of poison oak and ivy.
On Sunday, we finished up what we started at West Fork and returned back to the Chilao Barracks. We finished constructing 1.5 picnic tables and 2 fire pits and did hazard reduction on those 2 fire pits. We’ve returned back to the Chilao Barracks to clean out the coolers from our food, treated the tools and clothes with “Technu” from poison oak exposure, and returned the tools back to the warehouse. Chris and Ryan left to go back to their home away from home in the nearby ranger district.
On Monday, we worked on the three panel display at Chilao Visitor Center. We’ve put in the missing wood that we were supposed to on Thursday, made borders and cut the plexiglass for the door fixture. That was a whole other carpentry lesson of its own! Jen had to leave this group since she had a family emergency and she’s not coming back to finish up the term. So the SCA crew and a few members from the forest service went to a goodbye dinner for her. I’ll miss her!
Thursday August 5th thru Sunday August 8th: Valley Forge Hitch
On Thursday, we worked on the three panel display at Chilao Visitor Center. We’ve continued working on cutting plexiglass and the wooden borders for the doors. We’ve cut plexiglass with a power sander/grinder to the dimensions of the wooden borders. We’ve broken the corners of one sheet of plexiglass and another sheet was all scratched up. So we now had to get two more sheets of plexiglass from Home Depot. We’ve went to a follow up appointment with the doctor regarding those rashes. I don’t have any rashes but Dan and Stacy did.
On Friday, we did preparation work for my project at Valley Forge Trails Camp. Valley Forge is close to West Fork and is similar to it too. However, Valley Forge had less trees and tall grass covered the area. We’ve set up at Valley Forge and cleared the parking lot since the parking lot was full of small rocks and sand from the washout. It was generally cool due to the shade like West Fork.
Saturday was the day of the volunteering event. Pat went with the SUV to pick up the volunteers as we set up the place for the event. The job was to unbury 3 picnic tables and one fire pit one foot deep in sand, sand and paint 5 tables, repair one table, remove a metal drainage structure, and repair a bridge with a few wood boards. Several volunteers showed up for the event and we completed most of the work except repairing that one table and the bridge. We’ve hiked along the creek in the afternoon to enjoy its beauty.
Sunday was the day to cleanup and finished the remaining projects in Valley Forge and Chilao Visitor Center. We’ve spent a quarter of the day packing up and finishing those remaining projects in Valley Forge and half the day at the Chilao Visitor Center finishing up that three panel display. We’ve got the 2 plexiglass sheets from Home Depot and finished the doors for the three panel display. So now, the three panel display is almost done. We’ve installed two doors for the three panel display and will need to install the last door when we get the chance. Overall, this was a very busy day.
This is the end of my blog entries. I thank you for reading the summer adventures of an SCA Fire Recovery Team and I hope you enjoyed them. Have fun!
The final month of the project finally came, and it came far too quickly. The crew started off August with a three day hitch to the Valley Forge Campground. Valley Forge was a closed campground that had been washed out when the rains came last year, and it has been closed ever since. There, we lead five volunteers in restoring five picnic tables, excavated a fire ring, and repaired a wooden bridge. After Valley Forge, the crew spent most of its remaining time trying to finish the work we began at the Chilao Visitor Center, namely fixing the 3-panel display. This project took more time than expected to complete, but we finally finished it, completing a project that had been in limbo for at least a month.
We had one more Trails project with the Sierra Club on the PCT at Mill Creek where we had about 23 volunteers building timber structures and improving the tread of the trail.
We took one last hike starting at the East Fork Trailhead and got to see the Bridge to Nowhere. This actual bridge was built in the 1930s and was intended to be part of a highway that would run through the forest. After the area got flooded and several rock slides, the highway was abandoned. Now the bridge is a popular hangout spot for people hiking through the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.
The crew finished up the project building picnic tables at the Eagles’ Roost Picnic Area, decommissioning the Vista Picnic Area, and one last day of removing Spanish Broom with a dozen volunteers.
Finally, on August 20 our project came to an end. In all, our crew had lead 301 volunteers, reopened one campground and one picnic area, restored two other campgrounds and seven day use areas, restored three trails (about ½ mile on each trail), and removed a ton of Spanish Broom. Not only did we accomplish a tremendous amount of work, we set the standard that all other crews will be measured by.
The month of July started out strong for the team with a day working with the Engine Crew at the Chilao Fire Station. We worked with Engine 16 and learned what the crew does on a daily basis. We got to watch a tree felling demonstration and learned how to operate fire hose. This was a nice break for the crew since we just spent most of June working to reopen the Monte Cristo campground, so the change of pace was much appreciated. Since the crew had done such a good job during the month of June, we took a week off to enjoy the Fourth of July Weekend. After the break, we attended the Great American Outdoors Listening Session in Los Angeles. This was a national initiative from the Office of the President of the United States to solicit input from the country on how to best use America’s open spaces and recreation areas, particularly park and forests. The session included speeches from officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
After the listening session the crew began preparing for our volunteer service day with Home Depot. The crew camped out at the Wildwood Picnic Area, the site location for the project, in order to be closer to the project site instead of driving an hour from Chilao. This event was to kickoff SCA’s partnership with Home Depot, in all we had 75 volunteers help us restore picnic tables, the bathroom, the BBQ grills, and a complete site cleanup and hazard reduction.
After the Home Depot Project, we returned to the Chilao barracks and got back to a more normal routine. We continued our work removing Spanish Broom and started up a new project, Trail Restoration with the Sierra Club. Every other Saturday, we helped the Trails Coordinator lead a group of Sierra Club volunteers on various trail projects. Most of these projects helped address issues related to the burn-affected trails like the Silver Moccasin Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. On both of these trails, the crew and volunteers built drainage dips and timber structures to help slow erosion on the trail.
The crew also took time to enjoy the forest as well; we took a day-hike up to the top of Mount Islip. The hike allowed us to take a break from all of the work and gain some perspective on the rest of our project.
We closed out the month of July with a three day hike to the West Fork Campground. While West Fork was not affected by the fire, it was in the Station Fire Closure because the campground was in dire need of restoration. There, the crew and seven volunteers built five concrete picnic tables, installed two new fire rings, and performed hazard reduction throughout the campground.
Here is a link to a cool video of the fire and how it affected some of the wildlife on the Angeles.
If there is one word that can sum up the month of June it would be versatility. Building picnic tables, restoring campsites, maintaining trails, and removing invasive species are just a few of the projects that our crew got to tackle. We began with National Trails Day, a huge volunteer event; about a hundred volunteers came out to work on trails around Mt. Wilson. Like the project on the PCT in May, we were not yet supervising volunteers; we were simply trying to get more comfortable working with volunteers.
After National Trails Day, we attended and represented SCA at National Get Outdoors Day at Chantry Flats. There, we got to meet several representatives from the Fire Safe Council, REI, The Tree People, and the LA Conservation Corps. While the weather wasn’t the best, we were able to talk with several people about what we are doing on the forest and introduce people to SCA. We even made a pitch to Smokey Bear, let me know if his application arrives and I’d be glad to give him a good reference.
When we weren’t with volunteers, we set to work on new orders from the District Ranger. The Ranger wanted to try an open up some additional recreational sites on the forest before the July 4th weekend. The Monte Cristo Campground, Hidden Springs Picnic Area, and the front country picnic areas at Wildwood, Stonyvale, and Vogel Flats were listed as the priority sites. Our crew helped out an Eagle Scout project at Stonyvale. We uncovered two concrete pads that were washed out, while the Boy Scout volunteers painted and sanded picnic tables and installed new BBQ grills. At Monte Cristo, we repaired and repainted picnic tables at the 21 site campground. We also removed debris and broken picnic tables from the campground and performed Hazard Reduction at all of the campsites. At Hidden Springs, we repaired three picnic tables and replaced a sign at the parking lot. We didn’t get to work on Wildwood because we decided to save it for a large volunteer service day with Home Depot. And we didn’t work on Vogel Flats because we physically could not get to the site. The picnic area had be heavily flooded in the rains after the Station Fire and road into Vogel Flats was blocked by five feet of sand. Still, the work that our crew did allowed the Ranger to recommend opening Monte Cristo and Hidden Springs in time for the 4th of July.
The month of June also brought about the start of our Sunday invasive species removal project. We worked with the Forest Botanist and several volunteers to remove Spanish Broom from the Forest. Spanish Broom is not your typical invasive plant; it has thick, deep roots that can be as long as nine feet deep. In order to manually remove Spanish Broom, you have to dig two to three feet in to the ground around the plant, and then use a weed wrench to pull out the roots. If you don’t know what a weed wrench is, imagine a large vice-grip attached to a lever that is about three to four feet tall. This is what you have to use to try (emphasis on try) to remove this tough plant.
We finished up the month of June with a couple of projects at the Chilao Visitor Center. There we fixed a couple of holes in the wall, performed some trail maintenance, and began work on rebuilding a 3-panel display. While we didn’t complete everything that we wanted to at the Visitor Center, we would return to this site to continue to improve on the Center.
An outdoor baggage claim in sunny southern California is where thousands of people each day end their journey only to begin a new one. I had everything planned, I had the scheduled set (for the most part), I had the budget figured out, and I would be lying if I knew exactly how the next three months would transpire.
The Angeles National Forest is the most urban forest in America. Tens of thousands of people from the LA area come up to the forest every year to enjoy everything from swimming and hiking to horseback riding and filmmaking. Now imagine that a quarter of that forest has been devastated by fire, all of the closest campgrounds, picnic areas, and trails are closed, and the main highway through the forest has been washed out by flooding. These are just a few of the problems facing the Angeles National Forest one year after the Station Fire.
This is why we are here.
After a couple days of training and a tour of the forest, we got straight to work. We headed off to work on a volunteer trail project on the PCT near Sawmill Campground. Volunteers are the crux of our project. Since the Station Fire, the forest has received numerous requests from volunteers who to help the restore the forest. This two day trail project was our first taste of working with volunteers.
We closed out the month of May with a trip to McCall, ID for SCA training and a Wilderness First Aid course for the Corps Members. Upon our return to the Angeles, we set up base camp near our barracks to begin two weeks of living in a base camp in an effort to get used to camping for some of our projects.
Hike to Mt Islip 
This is the hike to Mt Islip map. We parked at the Islip Saddle and hiked to the Little Jimmy campgrounds then hiked to Mt Islip. Total hike distance is 7 miles round trip.
Here are the maps of the trails that the Sierra Club, Forest Service, and the SCA worked on during the Volunteer Service Days with the Sierra Club.
First map (smtrail1.jpg) show the work done on the Silver Moccasin Trail nearby the Chilao Campgrounds off the Angeles Crest Highway. 'Site 2' to 'Site 1' is where Jen and the Sierra Club volunteers hiked to get to their site. 'Site 2' and 'Siver M' is where the trail connects with the road to the campgrounds and fire station. Jen and her volunteers worked on clearing away vegetation from 'Site 1' to 'Silver M'. The rest of us worked from 'Siver M' to 'End Silver M' on the drainage dips and treading.
The second map (pcttrails2.jpg) shows the work done on the Pacific Coast Trail in the Mill Creek Picnic Area off the Angeles Forest Highway. We worked from 'PCT Th' to 'PCT End' doing treading and puting in timber drainage structures to stop erosion. The location of those timber drainage structures is listed on the second map as 'timber 3', 't8', 'timber 2', and 'timber 1'.
This is the map where we removed Spanish Broom at Mt Gleason. The data points shown in the map is the major sites we worked on to remove Spanish Broom. It follows the Santa Clara Divide Road from the entrance of Mt Gleason where Mill Creek Picnic Area is located. You can get there via the Angeles Forest Highway. For removing Spanish Broom, you had to dig up the bush and pull out the root with a root wrench.
Wed May 19th thru Tues May 25th: Introductions
The first day was a day of travel for all of us. All except me flew in from various regions in the United States. I drove from San Diego. We stayed at a cheap motel with a pool and hot tub. We spent the next couple of days training on SCA policies and procedures, risk management operations, base camp operations, vehicle maintenance, and equipment management. Both Jen and I got drivers training so that more people can drive the big red truck to give Patrick a break. We also slowly got to know each other. During this introductions and training, we ate at restaurants or the supermarkets. During the weekend, the crew went to do trail maintenance training at the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) while I had to attend his graduation ceremony for achieving his bachelors' degree. The rest of the team camped out at the PCT and were snowed on by a summer snowstorm. On Monday we worked on building picnic tables which was very exciting. Tuesday was a day where we got to see the campgrounds and day use areas where we will be working on for the summer. We saw the barracks (Chilao Fire Station) and where we will be camping out for two weeks (Chilao Campgrounds). We will eventually move into the barracks after camping out and we will be doing hitches where we stay at extended times (multiple days) on the campgrounds where we will be improving on. This entire time of training was slow and light on responsibility though it was a lot of fun. Yet I am restless to do actual work.
Wed May 26th thru Mon May 31st: Training at McCall, Idaho
This weekend was all about training at the University of Idaho Outdoors Training Center in McCall, Idaho. We left on Wednesday at 7am (PST) from the Burbank Airport only to arrive at the Boise Airport at 3pm (MST). We met other teams from all across the nation doing two kinds of various work. One team dealt with plants (planting native species and removal of invasive species) and the other dealt with fire (fire monitoring). Both were in the Conservation Corps. Our team dealt with fire but was the only team that dealt with fire recovery efforts. There were a total of 40 corps members in attendance of this week long training seminar. We drove for 2 hours from the Boise Airport to McCall in amazing scenery of changing climates. It switches from valley to grassland foothills to river gully to forest and mountains. The training center was a bunch of log cabins, mess hall, and classroom surrounded by giant pine trees by a lake. The log cabins were where the corps members slept at. Inside those cabins was a room of bunk beds totaling 10 beds with a heater. It does get cold at nights... a little too much for a person accustomed to San Diego weather. We were fed delicious and healthy food 3 times a day. Actual training for my team was 4 days long: two days of SCA policy and procedures with CPR training and two days of Wilderness First Aid training. On the social side, it was very interactive and enjoyable. I met a lot of fun and interesting people who I regret not getting their facebook info to keep in contact with them. On our downtime after dinner, we played board games till bedtime. There was a time at the last night of training where a group of people jumped into the cold lake...and stayed in there. Then again, these people are already accustomed to cold water because of where they grew up at. On that last night, there was an ice cream social and a movie night showing The Goonies. My team flew back on Monday, leaving at 7am from McCall to arrive at the Burbank Airport at 6pm (PST). We stayed overnight at the hotel nearby the airport since we have not been able to set up camp during daylight hours.
Tues June 1st thru Thurs June 3rd: Downtime and Last Minute Shopping
On Tuesday, we did last minute errands. We went to Home Depot to buy our tools for the work we would be doing. Power tools, tarps, propane tank with outdoor kitchen stove, hand tools, and other various stuff were collected and bought. Then we went to Costco. We spent 2 hours collecting foodstuff from the list created that morning in the hotel room. But we weren’t able to buy any of those foodstuffs since the SCA debit card couldn’t work in Costco. We later found out that the credit card company put a hold on our card because of suspicious activity which is a weird reason to me. The debit card work in Home Depot and at Vons where we got our foodstuff for the week after leaving Costco. Everyone was pissed off after Costco because we spent so much time collecting the foodstuff there. Anyways, we left to get to the campgrounds at Chilao. We found a place to set up our tents and kitchen area at the Meadows section of the campgrounds and cooked our food in the dark in the barracks. The barracks runs off of a generator which is turned off on Tuesday and Wednesday when the firemen aren’t there. We are camping out in high desert area (5000 feet in elevation above sea level) with a few ponderosa pines scattered in the area. There is a river nearby bring in mosquitoes and bugs to our campsite which makes it annoying. But the river also brings in frogs croaking through the night which is enjoyable. You can even hear the roar of the wind run across the terrain and trees in the night time which makes camping out very exciting and relaxing. When I hear that roar of wind, all the troubles go away while peace and serenity conquer and dominate my unconscious mind. Jen is scared that a black bear might go sniffing around while we are asleep because her clothes smells like strawberries from her perfume. Bear have a great sense of smell and are attracted to food. We leave our smelly stuff and food in the red truck, away from the campsite.
Wednesday was our day off. We spent the day at the laundry mat in civilization since the washer and dryer at the barracks didn’t work because the generator was off. We met a hot shot (type of wilderness fireman) from the Little T Ranger Station at the Laundromats who told some interesting stories...none that I can remember. Earlier in the morning, we were worried that our food might go bad in the barrack’s freezer so we dug a hole near our campsite to fill up a cooler volume of cold foods. We were going to put the food in the hole when we returned to the barracks but found the generator on and Patrick doing laundry. Some of the firemen were back at the barracks and we met a few of them.
Thursday was a day spent relaxing at the beach. Everyone except Patrick drove 2 hours to get to the Venice Beach in Santa Monica were we hung out and jumped into the ocean. We walked around afterwards to see the famous Pier that was the ending point of Route 66. There was an amusement park and some nice tourist shops at the pier. We saw a gymnastics area where there were monkey swings, tight rope, and bars that you stand on. We saw people practicing in that gymnastics area and were quite festinated by their movements. There was a place where a group of 20 people played chess against each other nearby the beach. The beach was so wide and well groomed and the beach culture was such a strong influence here. We left the beach to find food. After an hour of driving, choosing wisely places not to go because we didn’t want fast food or go to shady places, we ended up at the sports bar watching the Lakers vs. Celtics playoff game. The sports bar was full of Lakers fans and Dan is a Celtics fan. So just imagine just how of a powder keg this situation could of been if the Lakers lost that night. Anyways, we ate happy hour appetizers there and drove back during rush hour traffic to the campsite. We all took evening showers that night at the barracks. We still continue to take evening showers because it is more sanitary and easier to do so than taking morning showers.
Fri June 4th thru Thurs June 10th: First Week of Work
Friday was our first day of actual work. We set up a weekly chore system that encompasses preparing and cleaning up breakfast and dinner and vehicle maintenance. Then we set up a tarp over a picnic table between two trees to create a kitchen area. We found that field mice has contaminated most of our nonperishable foods because we stored our foods in the cabinets instead of plastic bins and expressed a Hantavirus scare. We attempted to clean up the kitchen because there were mice poop everywhere. We now store all our foods in the walking freezer at the barracks. What we should have done if we cleaned the kitchen is used 10% bleach mixture with proper breathing masks and latex gloves to prevent possible exposure to Hantavirus. I am no longer worried about Hantavirus from that day because I would get violent symptoms after a week from exposure if that was the case. And I am still alive so I am no longer worried. After this lunch fiasco, we headed to Little Pines Campground to replace a few barriers. It took most the afternoon to replace 2 barriers and pull out 3 barriers destroyed by the wildfire. We dug up the posts with iron bars and shovels, used a drill and hammer to drill in 2 iron bars in the new barrier post, and put in a mixture of gravel and dirt with the new post to put in the barrier. Today was a hot day to do this kind of work. We were surrounded by dead pines ready to fall on us at any time. Patrick was in meetings throughout the entire day at Little T Ranger Station with the Recreation Department. They talked about opening up some campgrounds by July 4th and how that can be achieved. This means we finally have a busy and set work plan till July 4th. Little tip for today: sleep with your feet slightly elevated above your heart by sleeping on a slightly sloped incline when you align your tent. This will help with relieving foot pain. We slept with coyotes howling very close to and surrounding our tents for part of the night. I enjoyed that experience at least.
Saturday was trail maintenance day at Mt Wilson. This is where the Hooker Telescope is at which made significant advances in astronomy and how we saw the galaxy and universe. We worked with 200 or so volunteers to repair some of the trails around this mountain. We had McLeod’s, Shovels, and other tools used to do trail work. There were loads of bugs around and it was a hot day. I covered my ears with my bandana and the eyes with safety glasses and wore a hardhat to get the bugs of my face and hair. You can see the inversion layer of Los Angeles's smog below you. I was told that when the Santa Annas blew, you can see as far as the ocean from this mountain. Jen and Patrick worked on a tricky erosion problem on the trails. They built a check dam and rocks with logs barriers to direct the flow away from a critical part of the trails. I got attacked by fire ants because I sat down on the ground and there was a rip on my boots. So I had to get new boots now. After a mornings work, we got a free tour of the Observatory on this mountain which was a very exciting and overwhelming experience for me. We got a tour of the insides of the 60 inch and 100 inch telescopes and the 150 ft tall solar telescope. I was so overwhelmed by that tour that I fell asleep at the campsite when we drove back to the campgrounds. The rest of the crew went to Newcombs Ranch (a restaurant nearby the campsite) for their dinner.
Sunday's work was on removing the Spanish broom bush at Mt Gleason with a dozen volunteers. We used picmatocks, loppers, shovels, and weed wrenches. Today was a hot day. The issue here is that Spanish broom is an invasive species capable of transforming the chaparral (high desert) into grassland. Spanish broom is a grassland species. Grasslands burn once every 5 years and the chaparral burns once every 30 years. This means more frequent fires if the invasive grassland species take over which is not what the forest service wants. To remove a Spanish broom, dig below the plant to expose the root and pull it out with a weed wrench. This was hard work digging a few feet into the rocky ground to expose those roots. I have been sick with a cold for a week or so and finally felt the effects of the weaken body since I could only do 2 hours of work before passing out from the heat. When I mean by passing out, I don’t mean blacking out. I mean just sitting down to wait for lunch and slept through lunch for an hour until I could work again. I don’t like being in this state since I couldn’t do much work (I wasn’t doing enough work comparable to my team). I also got Jen sick because I gave her my water bottle a few days ago. I had to cook dinner for this week but I know nothing about cooking. Dan however taught me how to cook simple meals for the team which I am fully in gratitude for...otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue as to know what to do. We ended the day telling ghost stories and reflecting on philosophy around the campfire.
Monday's work was at Monte Cristo Campground. We removed burnt tree cuts (small and light enough to be picked up and moved to a truck). We repainted some of the picnic tables and marked the tables that needed their planks to be replaced due to fire damage. We got help from two people: a forest service ranger and an unemployed construction worker living on food stamps. We moved the tree pieces to a firewood collection area 20 miles away. I am excited to go to San Diego for my weekend. Today was another hot day.
For this weekend (Tuesday thru Thursday), we did separate things. I took the girls (Jen and Stacy) to my home in San Diego and gave them a mini tour to Coronado Beach and the Wild Animal Park. I had to work on errands and laundry on Wednesday as did the girls so we slowed down a bit that day. Dan spent the weekend with his uncle and aunt and went whale watching. Patrick stayed at the Chilao campground taking care of a few administrative tasks and went to Santa Monica Beach. We returned to the campsite by Thursday night.
Fri June 11th thru Mon June 14th: Second Week of Work
The temperature fell like 10 or 20 degrees F compared to last week and I can see the marine layer moving across the sky. What we did on Friday is prep for National Get Outdoors Day event at an undamaged area of the Angeles National Forest (in a different Ranger District). We work with the Recreation Department to move tables and other supplies to their day use area where the event will take place. This day use area was filled with trees with a mist hanging directly above and a stream that flows down past the day use area a few miles away. We hiked for a couple of miles to the waterfall where we ate our lunch after doing that prep work. The hike reminded me of a rainforest in Hawaii and I was so energized by the hike itself. After the hike, we drove to Little T Ranger Station to check to see if we got our uniforms and booth supplies from the mail. We haven’t got our uniforms in the mail but we did get the booth supplies. We saw a brush fire that raged only a few miles from us. We heard the traffic on the radios of the helicopters and firemen racing to extinguish the fire. That fire only lasted 1 hour and didn’t stand a chance against the overwhelming force to extinguish that fire. It was very exciting to hear that traffic and to see all the action in the air and the behavior of the fire.
Saturday was the National Get Outdoors Day at the day use area. We set up our booth and talked about the Student Conservation Association to people and to the other booth representatives. I think there were at least half dozen booths at this event. But it was boring and cold. The only entertainment was wearing these nonvenemous snakes as jeweler by allowing them to wrap around our bodies as they kept warm and seeing Smokey Bear walk around getting his picture taken by other people. I got a picture of him with me with a fellow ranger.
Sunday was all about the Invasive Species Removal of Spanish Broom with volunteers that we did last week. We will continue to do this every week for the next two weeks on Sundays. I managed to remove the one bush that I worked on from last week but wasn’t able to complete. The Eagle Scouts were there and got tired after 2 hours of working and left after getting tired. Then a crew of 2 dozen hot shot firemen came to our site and helped up clean up the Spanish broom there. They were fast and efficient and pulled out almost all of the Spanish broom in that site. I managed to work continuously the entire time because I wasn’t sick anymore. It was an overcast and cool day. What a relief! Later that night, we celebrated Jen's 23rd birthday at a restaurant in downtown Pasadena with the Chilao Fire Station's chief with his wife and the chief's second in command with his girlfriend and a forest service enforcer and investigator. That was a fun night.
Monday was about finishing up the Monte Cristo campground that we worked on last week. We replaced many of the planks of the picnic tables and repainted those tables. But we weren’t finished because we needed smaller planks for a few of those picnic tables. Jen did a little weed wacking with a ranger while the rest of us headed over to the Hidden Valley day use area to replace another table, remove wooden blocks and transported those wooden blocks to a firewood dumpsite, and put up a downed bulletin board. We need to go back there to finish removing a table there. Today was a cool day. Jen took charge of a future project at the Chilao Visitor Center and spent most the morning with Patrick to do a site assessment of that site so she can organize a volunteer event there for the 26th of June. But she was cut short by the high amount of work we needed to do today.
Friday June 18th thru Monday June 21st: Third Week of Work
On Friday we worked at the Monte Cristo Campground. Dan, John the Ranger, and I moved boulders from the side of the road to the boarders of campsites and adjacent parking spots to keep people’s vehicles from going inside the campsite. Stacy and Jen worked on clearing a ten foot radius from the fire pits inside the campsites. We used John’s truck to carry the boulders from the side of the road to the appropriate spot in the campsites. Patrick and Jen were going to do a site assessment of the Chilao Visitor Center but where sidetracked to work at Monte Cristo since there was a lot of work that needed to be done before opening it to the public. The Rangers wanted to open this campground to the public before July 4th.
On Saturday we worked at the Stonyvale Picnic Area. We worked with a group of Mormon Missionaries and Boy Scouts the dig out the buried picnic sites from mudslides. We also replaced some BBQ stoves in the picnic sites and cleaned and repainted the bathrooms. There was one particular picnic area that was under 5 feet of dirt from which we spent the majority of the day working on clearing that site clearing most of the dirt. I’ve learned something significant from Dan: how to properly use a shovel. What you want to do is keep your back straight and vertical. You hold the shovel at the tip and move your waist in the horizontal direction when moving the dirt to the place where the dirt is to be dumped. You don’t bend over to dig. This is to prevent lower back injury and builds up your core muscles.
On Sunday we worked at Mt Gleason doing Spanish broom removal. We’ve finished the section that we started in early June and continued to work along the roadside. The road is the highest part of several watersheds and we are to work along this road to prevent Spanish broom from infecting and spreading into those watersheds. Once the Spanish broom goes down the watersheds, it will be difficult to extinguish that momentum. Invasive Species spread from roads since its cars that carry the pollen of those invasive species.
Monday is our overflow day. We did hazard reduction in Monte Cristo (clearing around the fire pits), finish dismembering the table in Hidden Springs, and finished digging out that picnic area in Stonyvale. Monte Cristo Campground is finally ready to be open to the public thanks to the SCA teams efforts!
Friday June 25th thru Thursday July 1st: Work Week at the Chilao Visitor Center
Friday we spent the day figuring out what projects needed work and how we are to get it done. We’d figured carpentry and dry wall skills will be needed for this project. We had to do trail maintenance on the half mile trail, repair the drywalls in the Visitor Center, replace the wooden borders of the sidewalk pavement, repair the three panel display, sanded and painted the benches, and realigned the benches in the amphitheater. Dan and Jen worked on the drywall. The rest of us worked on the rest of the projects. We had the Stewardship Academy come on Sunday and had them work on trail maintenance and painting and sanding the benches. Dan and Pat went to work removing Spanish broom at Mt Gleason on Sunday. For the rest of the work week, we spent on figuring out how to rebuild the three panel display and pavement border. We managed to finish the drywall, pavement border, trail maintenance, and sanded and painted the benches by Wednesday. I’ve enjoyed learning how to cut wood with a table saw and I spent a good part of the work week cutting wood. On Thursday, we did a work day with Engine 16 learning the ways of a wildfire firefighter. We saw how they cut down a few burnt trees and was in a practice session using their various nozzles to spray water on the side of an abandoned building. Fun times! Oh, I almost forgot. On Thursday we worked with prisoners from a country jail for a few hours with the firefighters as they cleaned up Hidden Springs Picnic Area. We removed all the burnt tree cuts and branches and moved the logs boarding the parking area to keep people from driving inside the picnic area. Now Hidden Springs Picnic Area is ready to be open to the public! Hooray!
Thursday July 8th thru Saturday July 17th: Work Week at Wildwood Picnic Area
On Thursday, we went to a seminar directed by the Obama administration to get feedback and ideas as to how to better utilize our urban forest and parks from the youth. Its pretty interesting to see all of these youth groups interested in environmental stewardship in Los Angeles. We (everyone in this seminar) presented our recommendations to the Obama administration for their review and possible utilization. These seminars were taking place all over the nation as the Obama administration try to collect as many recommendations and ideas as possible in the area of using the parks and forests in the USA. Our work days have been reduced from 10 hour days to 8 hour days because we were working 50 hour work weeks (cumulative). Now we are working 45 hour work weeks (cumulative) which should make everyone’s life a little easier. I did a little counting on the work schedule over the 6 day break to determine the numbers. SCA policy says that the crews should work between 40-45 hours per week as a target.
On Friday we spent the time learning how to design and construct drainage dips in trails and did a site assessment on the Silver Moccasin Trail near the Little Pines campground (close to the Chilao Station) with Andrew the park ranger. This is for Saturday’s Volunteer Service Day with the Sierra Club. We also did a little cleaning in the barracks afterwards.
On Saturday we worked on treading and constructing drainage dips on the Silver Moccasin Trail with the Sierra Club. This group was really fun and skilled people to work with in this event. The SCA team was in charge of supervising and providing technical assistance to the Sierra Club during this event. They all played it safe and no one experienced heat stress since today was a hot day. When the days get hotter and hotter, then there is more of an attention to heat stress from dehydration. I am learning to pay more attention to this common problem and making sure the volunteers drink enough water. The SCA team hiked along the Silver Moccasin Trail after the work day was over because we had the time to do so and we wanted to hike it a little bit farther down the trail.
On Sunday we worked at Mt Gleason doing Spanish broom removal. We traveled for an hour on the dirt road to get to our site to remove Spanish broom in addition to the hour to get to the gates of Mt Gleason. So we are really going into the backcountry of this chaparral. Today was a hot day and the Stewardship Academy were over to help us in this event. One of the girls from the Stewardship Academy were experiencing heat stress and their leader had to rush the girl out to get her to cool down and rehydrate her.
Monday thru Wednesday was the time that we prepared for an event at the Wildwood Picnic Area. This was a big event where we were to get around 60 people from Home Depot to fix up the Wildwood Picnic Area. We were camped out in the picnic area to not drive so much to get supplies and gear in civilization. The place was hot and humid and this was the time of 100 degree F weather. We camped around a tree that was marked with graffiti. This site is very close to civilization and is a very popular spot since a river runs through it. We met with Pat’s boss named Jill who came from Boise, Idaho to help us with this event. She would be camping with us. For the issue with water, Pat bought two 2 gallon gravity fed water filters using nanofilters to use the river water to feed our thirst. We brought our food for the week in 2 totes and one cooler. We brought nonperishable food only because of the heat. That means no meats and fruits and veggies (unless they are canned or dried). I was in charge of cooking dinner this week. So, the general thing we did for the entire time is drove around getting supplies at Home Depot and the Little T Ranger Station and stayed out of the sun during 12pm till 2-3pm. This week was particularly interesting from the group dynamics under stress. Pat was so concerned about planning for this event and looking good in front of the boss that his stress level was at a particularly high level. And the rest of the group’s stress level was at a high point too from various reasons. One of those reasons is sleeplessness from fearing some killer might get them in their sleep (because we saw random people walking about in the late evening) or simply that it was too hot to sleep. The rest of the group was planning on what to say to Jill to express their grievances about Pat and this project which was expected to take place on Friday in one-on-one conversations.
Thursday was the day of the event. The event was split into four groups: site 1, site 2, bathroom, and trash pickup. Site 1 and 2 had to sand and repaint the picnic tables, scrub the BBQ stoves, cut down the tall grasses at a 10 foot radius from the BBQ stoves, cut down the tall grasses around the picnic tables, and cut down the tall grasses to provide a trail between site 1 and 2. Both of those sites were supervised by Jen and Stacy for the event. Dan was the supervisor in the bathroom and I was the supervisor for doing trash pickup around the picnic area. The bathroom needed an interior repainting job, general cleaning inside the bathrooms, and cut down the tall grasses around the bathrooms. My job task for the event is to pick up the trash and glass in the grasses and along the river. 75 people shown up for this event along with the high school SCA trails crew to assist us in this event. Its went pretty smoothly and we ran out of work to do by noon. It was fun to work with these Home Depot employees as they are hardworking and a social bunch. After lunch, Home Depot presented a check of 125,000 dollars to the SCA in a little ceremony. Senator Feinstein’s aid came to participate with us in the ceremony because of her allegiance to national parks and forests and wildfire prevention/suppression. It was a great day overall. Plus, now all its left is to cut down the rest of the tall grass and the burnt trees and the Wildwood Picnic Area will be open to the public! Yah!
Friday was a day to closeout the event done yesterday. We gather was tools and supplies we borrowed from the Little T Ranger Station and put them away over there. We gather what tools and supplies (in exception for the demolition project tomorrow) we had and put them away at the Chilao Station. Then we attended a BBQ by the high school SCA trails crew around noon and hung out with them. We later went to the library to do a little administration and outreach work for the event tomorrow. At Little T Ranger Station and at the Library is when we expressed our grievances about this project and about Pat in one-on-one conversations with Jill. She later talked to Pat once we arrived back to Wildwood for a few hours. It seems big changes will come around the corner
Saturday was Dan’s Stonyvale and Delta Flats Overlooks Demolition Project. Unfortunally if we did the site assessment yesterday, we would of known that it would be impossible to remove the barrier post cemented into the ground without using a jackhammer. So we just did trash pickup of trash and glass around the one of the overlooks with the volunteers for a few hours who came to us for this volunteer service day. We did a job closeout talk were we talked about what went successful and what needed improvement on for today’s event and Thursday’s event. We then moved back to Chilao Station and cleaned up the totes and cooler which marked the end of a long hitch.
The Project 
The Fire Recovery Restoration Team is doing fire recovery work from the damaged area in the Angeles National Forest located north of Los Angeles, California. Since the Station Fire of 2009 has destroyed 1/3 of the Angeles National Forest, much work is needed to be done. The team will be working on campground and day use area restoration, trail maintenance, and invasive species removal in preparation to open more and more parts of the Angeles National Forest to the public. As an average, 2 million people per year use the campgrounds and day use areas in the Angeles National Forest.
By: Erik Berliner
The attached photo is the map of the Station Fire Closure on the Angeles. As you can see, much of the forest was heavily damaged and is unsafe for public use.
Hello and welcome, I am Patrick Gallo the Project Leader for the SCAs Fire Recovery Project in the Angeles National Forest.
Born in Akron, OH, I never thought that I would venture out west in search of a life committed to conservation work. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2007, I took a flight out to California and spent the next two years working for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). During that time I got to build playgrounds and coordinate volunteers in New Orleans, build fuel breaks in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and fight wildfires in California.
What drew me to SCA was their commitment developing leaders to promote a conservation ethic. I truly believe that if people can be exposed to the greatness of our country's public lands and resources, then people will want to preserve them.
In order to do that, we need people to lead the charge in preserving (or at the very least manage) the country's natural resources.
Needless to say, I am super excited to have the opportunity to serve an SCA crew and I am looking forward to working with all of the volunteers that we will be working with on the Angeles.
My name is Daniel Scimone and I am going into my senior year at Keene State College. Currently, I am in the process of attaining a Bachelor of Science in Safety Studies and a Minor in Environmental Studies. I am a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team. My hobbies include fishing, snowboarding, training, surfing, and hiking. Through SCA I want to apply my education experience to my work environment. Also I hope to attain new skills that I can use later in my career.
My name is Stacey Henk and I am currently attending the University of Wisconsin-Oskosh. I’m in my junior year going for my degree in Environmental Science and Urban Planning. I enjoy skiing, playing, softball and frolfing. I joined the SCA because of the strong parallel to my major and to experience a new adventure out of Wisconsin, and I hope to continue with conservation work in the future.
My name is Erik Berliner. I am from San Diego, California. I am currently a student at San Diego State University, pursuing a Master’s of Science in Environmental Engineering. I’ve joined the SCA to do something about healing planet Earth and all of her inhabitants. I’ve chosen not to sit in apathy and complacency by doing nothing. I enjoy designing rain water harvesting systems and gardening. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors because of the calming effects of nature and sense of adventure and discovery.
My name is Jennifer Brine. I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Vermont. I grew up in a small town called Sanford, Maine. Traveling and experiencing different cultures is where my true passion lies. I love adventure and am always up for a challenge. As an engineer, my main goal is and always has been to make a practical difference. I believe working for the SCA is the perfect place to start.